When Stan Dobbs recovered from a serious illness, he realized God had placed on his heart a mission to put a lot of underutilized church space to good use. What he created is a successful and growing childcare program called Lionheart Children’s Academy.
So named by the employees who felt it reflected the spirit of the children they care for, his centers are open in eight Texas churches—putting worship space to good use the other six days of the week.
Lionheart is already scheduling tours and accepting applications for its newest center at Celebration Church in Georgetown, set to open in January.
Marketing Director Kim Brown says, “Lionheart is a non-profit Christian childcare organization and we are licensed by the state. We are not affiliated with any denomination but we are open to people of all faiths, and we are pleased to share the Gospel and reach children for Christ for families who need care Monday through Friday.”
Dobbs’ purpose includes providing a revenue source to support each church’s programs and outreach. “We have a proven model and you can’t help but look at a thriving church like Celebration and hope to be a resource for the congregation and the community.”
Dobbs explains, “Research shows if we don’t reach people for Christ by the time they reach age 13, we lose the opportunity for about three-quarters of them until they become parents themselves. When folks have children, often their hearts are opened again to build a foundation for their families. That is our target; people who may be in a ‘wobbly’ time of life. We are here to help them build spiritual champions in a safe and affordable environment.”
Brown adds, “With 75 percent of women working outside the home, there are too many troubling stories about daycare. We assure our families that their kids are going to get the best care and be loved. We set our own standards even higher than those of the state. We are not just representing ourselves; we are representing the Lord.”
She says the Academy is also open to special needs accommodation on a case by case basis. “We always want to ensure that our academy is a good fit for each child and will provide a good experience.”
She was drawn to Lionheart for the mission. “I was blessed to work from home and understand the value of wholesome child care. I’m so impressed with the day-to-day work and what Lionheart provides. They truly want to excel in what they do.”
Parents are welcome to tour the facility at Celebration and Lionheart is able to work with families to seek supplemental assistance if there is a need.
Staff are all Christian and have adapted the HIGH SCOPE curriculum components. They do employ several degreed teachers as well, Brown says. “Some of our educators have been in schools before but they feel like this environment is a better fit. We bring opportunities for high quality education, good outcomes and operational safety. We’re marrying the heart of a church with the focus of a great child care organization.”
Lionheart is open to children 6 weeks old through pre-school for full-day care. They have before- and after-school care for K through 12th grade and a summer program. They also have their own buses to transport students to and from area schools. Children will also be provided healthy meals and snacks.
Stan Dobbs has given the bulk of his life to service since 2000. He attended seminary and when he completed treatment for lymphoma, began his journey to have a positive spiritual impact in the lives of children. “I was led to an industry that is largely secular,” he says. “Some children spend most of their waking hours in child care away from the home. I want to empower churches to operate full-time Christ-centered alternatives for their families.”